Roberta Robertson’s writing and photography have been featured in The Sacramento Bee and The East Bay Art Book. Most recently she finished the rough draft of her fictionalized memoir. Although a consistent writer and strong storyteller who has contributed regularly to The Flash Lit Collective and Alameda Shorts for several years and the occasional host of Monday Memoir meetings, Roberta prefers to be outside, exploring the world from the saddle of her bike and taking a true abundance of photographs of anything that catches her eye. She also enjoys sailing, gardening, and writing short stories–mostly with a sci-fi or paranormal twist.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #3:
I was in the kitchen making dinner when it started. The sky grew dark, like something large had blocked out the sun. Next there was a loud roaring sound, followed by an explosion, and then the earth shook. Now call me paranoid, but I was totally prepared for this. I had a go-bag upstairs in my bedroom closet and I always keep my gas tank halfway full in case I need to flee. Well that day had come, it looked like the world might actually be ending, the only problem was I had broken both my legs a month before. I couldn’t get upstairs to grab my go-bag, much less drive my car.
I turned on the radio, but the only station that was coming in was screaming fire and brimstone, then the power went out. With a heavy sigh I wheeled myself through the books, and broken glasses, and other knick-knacks that had tumbled to the floor. Once I reached the front window I peered out. Yup, it was the end of the world all right. The sky glowed orange and I counted at least five plumes of black smoke slowly darkening the horizon. Across the street my neighbors were running frantically to their car. This was my chance, I threw open the front door, but just as I called out to them, something fell from the sky and landed on their house. What had once been a two-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch with a white picket fence, was now a smoking hole in the ground.
This wasn’t good.
I rolled my wheelchair back through the debris field that was my living room and stopped at the base of my stairs. As I sat there trying to decide if I should try and crawl my way up the stairs for my go-bag, my back door flew open with a concussive blast. Or at least that was what it sounded like, but it turned out it was actually my boyfriend, who had a bad habit of not only slamming doors shut, but slamming them open as well.
“Oh thank goodness you are okay!” he exclaimed as he came flying into the living room.
“Yeah, I’m fine John, but I can’t get upstairs to get the go-bag, and I certainly can’t drive the car.”
“That’s why I ran straight here, I knew you would need rescuing.” he said as he bent down to hug me.
“Yeah, that and you don’t have your own car to escape in,” I replied as I pushed him away, “now stop this nonsense, go upstairs and get my go-bag, and let’s get out of here already.”
With the go-bag in hand John scooped me out of my chair and whisked me off to the car. Once we were safely buckled in, John put the key in the ignition, and turned it. Nothing happened, the battery was dead.
“I guess that’s what happens when you don’t drive for a month.” I said with a shrug.
June 2021 | Flash Lit Collective | Prompt #2:
Well I’ve totally messed this up. I thought as I stared out airplane window at the expanse of ocean stretching from horizon to horizon, 30,000 feet below me. The problem was I had never seen the ocean before. I grew up in a tiny land locked town in Nebraska. It was the same town my mom had grown up in, and my mom’s mom, and, well, you get the point. My family had been there forever, since the days of prairie schooners skimming across the amber waves of grain. When I was a child, I used to lay out in the middle of the fields on the farm in the late afternoon listening to the wind blow through the wheat, and pretend it was the ocean pounding against the sand.
When I was five my aunt Laura got married. She went to Hawaii for her honeymoon and came back with stories of sea turtles skirting the ocean cliffs and dolphins playing in waves illuminated by magical orange sunsets. She also brought me a shell that when I held it up to my ear I could hear the crashing of the waves on the sand. From that moment forward the only thing I wanted in my entire life was to dip my feet in the ocean.
So traveling to Hawaii is expensive. Sure, there are other, cheaper beaches to visit. I certainly had the opportunity to go in with my college roommates on a spring break trip to Cancun, or take a road trip to the coast, East or West, but it was Hawaii I was daydreaming about since I was five, and I just couldn’t imagine going to any other beach first.
It was the money my Aunt Laura gave me for my college graduation that pushed my budget from dream-land to actually going. I purchased one round trip ticket to Kauai, booked the cheapest hotel I could find, and instead of starting my job hunt I was counting down the days to my very first trip to the beach. Which was why I nearly freaked out when I looked down from the airplane and saw the ocean below. The perfect picture I had in my head of seeing the ocean for the first time, and sprinting across the perfect white powder sand into the azure ocean sunset, was being utterly ruined because I failed to realize I would have to fly over the ocean, in order to see the ocean from an island in the MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!
I slid my window shade shut and decided to pretend it didn’t happen.
The plane landed at 3:05 PM, right on time. I collected my luggage, found the shuttle for my hotel, and was on my way. By 5:30 PM I had dropped my luggage in my room and made my way to the beach. Just as the sun was setting, I dipped my toes in the amber waves of the ocean for the first time.
June 2021 Flash Lit Collective prompt #1:
Flying the Coop
Mac walked into the Redford Bar and shook the fog off his overcoat. After adjusting to the dim light, he spotted his old college roommate, Ricky, in a booth, and made his way over. It’d been five years since they graduated, and he was looking forward to catching up.
The drinks had just arrived when Mac saw her, an oddly dressed woman at the shadowy end of the bar, perched on a red stool. She wore a jacket made of black feathers, and had placed more in her hair, giving her the appearance of a large bird.
“Hey Ricky,” Mac whispered, “do you see that woman?”
“Her? That’s the Bird Woman of the Alcazar.”
“What?” Mac replied, with an arched eyebrow.
“Well, we’re in San Francisco, and then there is her coat, plus the Alcazar Theatre is across the street.”
“Okay, very punny.”
“I’m serous Mac, that’s what she’s called. She’s here every night, on that same stool, all alone.”
“Maybe she just needs a friend,” Mac said as he stood and walked over to the woman.
“Hi,” Mac said, “so you’re the famous bird lady.”
“Is that what they call me?”
Mac’s face flushed.
“I’m not a bird woman,” she declared, “I’m the daughter of Carol Doda!”
“That can’t be possible, you don’t look a day over 30.”
“It’s rude to comment on a woman’s age. Perhaps I am a time traveler, or immortal,” she leaned closer to Mac, and with whiskey laced breath whispered, “or perhaps I’m a ghost.”
“A ghost! I didn’t know ghosts smelled like whiskey.” Mac was surprised to find himself flirting. “So, Miss Doda, may I buy you a drink?”
“I thought you would never ask,” she batted her feather adorned eyelashes at him, and then turned to the bartender, “you know what I like Bill.”
“Of course, that will be $10.” The bartender held out his hand as Mac fished a ten out of his wallet, then threw in two ones for good measure.
At that moment the doors to the bar flew open and three women, also decked out in feathered outfits, burst into the room. The bird lady’s face lit up and she flew off her stool to join her flock. As the group turned to leave the bar, she called over her shoulder, “Bill, add that to my total, would ya’?”
“Of course, Donna.”
Mac turned around to see the bartender take a piece of chalk to the “Leave-a-Drink” board behind the bar. There was a long list of names, but at the top was Donna, followed by a couple dozen hash marks.
“Don’t worry Mac, she does that to everyone,” Ricky said, “heck I think at least two of those are from me.”
“But I thought you said she was crazy?”
“Nah, she’s probably just going to some costume party.”
“I can’t believe you helped her trick me like that!”
“What can I say, I think she’s cute.”
“Fine,” Mac rolled his eyes, “but you’re getting the next round.”